edited by Mateo Kries, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Amelie Klein Hello, Robot.: Design between Human and Machine


Vitra Design Museum, MAK, ISBN-13: 978-3945852118, English, 328 pages, 2017, Germany

Programmatically avoiding the lavish newness in technology design, this catalogue of the ‘Hello, Robot.’ exhibition revolves around our relationship with autonomous tech, beyond the omni-comprehensive effort of the show, ranging from pure pop to sophisticated art. Hosted first at Vitra Design Museum before landing at MAK Vienna and Design Museum Gent, it has been framed into four sections ‘Science and Fiction’, ‘Programmed to Work’, ‘Friend and Helper’, and ‘Becoming One’. Every section has been driven by open questions posed to the public, involving the sense of robot existence, and the core of the social, affective and conflicting relationship they provoke with their presence. These relationships are thoroughly discussed in this catalogue, especially through all the present grey areas. Are the relationships essentially a question of trust, since as humans we can trust and doubt at the same time, while robots are still prone to a binary logic? So Marlies Wirth notes and Bruce Sterling seems to hint in his short fiction. Should we abandon the classic division between the human and machine worlds and engage in conversations with robots, as Gesche Joost suggests? Or should we call for action, aiming to design a “broad and culturally rich palette of robots sent out into the world” as Dunne and Raby’s speculative design suggests? Or, more fundamentally, will we be able to “sustain […] bodies without organs” as Rosi Braidotti states? Probably all of the above, and even more, but always led by our critical and open biological nature.

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